I’ve learned to experience more satisfaction than I ever thought possible from the time I spend writing; if nothing else it brings a special comfort even on days (and there are many) when the words steadfastly refuse to come.
Indeed, whether the writing goes well or not I’ve learned to value–and yes, even cherish–my time alone, whereas before long hours of solitude often frightened me. Or bored me. Or caused me to feel like a “failure.”
My Forthcoming Books
I’ve covered every type of story imaginable — from IRA bombings in London to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. I loved being a reporter and yet at the same time I longed to realize another, even more important dream – that of someday becoming a wife and a mother.
Eventually, this dream came true but not without a price. A price that has involved heartbreak beyond anything I could have possibly imagined.
On August 28, 2010, my son Kieran took his life, less than three months before he was due to deploy to Afghanistan as an Army medic.
At the time I was working on a memoir about the grueling international custody case I’d been forced to fight many years ago in an effort to get my then four-year-old son out of London once and for all.
In the aftermath of my son’s death, I immediately put this manuscript aside, assuming that I would never write anything again.
And yet to my surprise within months I’d started writing again – just for myself, as a way of hopefully staying sane.
Over time writing became a way of processing my grief, even though as any parent who’s ever lost a child knows there’s no such thing as what’s so often referred to as “closure.” Simply put, “closure” as such is rarely, if ever, attained, especially when it’s your child who’s died.
And yet for days on end I would sit at my desk and write.
I wrote on everything – from scraps of paper to legal pads to college-rule notebook paper. I also used a desktop as well as a laptop. Oftentimes I would gaze out the window as I wrote. Rightly or wrongly, I spent hours reviewing my son’s life from the time he was born until the time of his death in an effort to better understand why he’d taken his life. This was my response to the tragedy that had befallen our family. It’s not necessarily – or even likely to be – the response of most mothers in my situation. In fact, I often wish that I could have found another, easier way, if indeed one exists, but I couldn’t. Writing –coupled with my faith– has been the only way forward for me.
” … as any parent who’s ever lost a child knows there’s no such thing as what’s so often referred to as “closure.”
I began by journaling, which was something I’d never really done before. By the end of the first year, to my amazement my musings had morphed into something vaguely resembling a manuscript. It was of course a manuscript that I’d never in my worst nightmare imagined writing.
The first draft wasn’t very good, but then first drafts rarely are. It took a year and then another and then another to finish. There were times when I wanted to stop but whenever I tried to I would find that I didn’t know what to do with myself. And so I kept going.
As a result, after more than five years of writing, always writing, I’ve managed to produce a manuscript that’s “almost” (I would say ninety-nine percent) complete, even though it still needs a cover design and more importantly a title.
In that sense the “book” still feels like it’s in an embryonic state. Nevertheless, my goal, and I believe it’s a realistic one, is to see it published in the fall of 2017 to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Month.
And now, given that my first book is so close to being finished, my plan is to return to that other manuscript, the one I was working on at the time of my son’s death. My hope is to finish–and then to publish–that one, too, since I firmly believe this is what my son would have wanted.
As a journalist, I used to see writing as work. And as such I definitely did not see it as therapeutic.
But largely as a result of my son’s death writing has come to mean something different to me now. It’s a means of survival, a way of holding on.